Millions of viewers to watch local man's appearance on 'Wheel of Fortune'

March 23, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • Jeremy Ellis to appear on "Wheel of Fortune."
Submitted photo

Like millions of viewers, Jeremy Ellis has played along with “Wheel of Fortune” at home, trying to guess the answers to the word puzzles before the contestants.

“I always thought I was pretty good at it,” Ellis, 32, said recently.

Members of his extended family would pit their collective wits against his, and he’d often arrive at the solution first, he said.

Competing in one’s living room is no doubt very different from spinning the wheel with Pat Sajak and Vanna White looking on. But fans of the show will be able to judge for themselves how good Ellis is at the real thing on Tuesday.

The show on which Ellis competed was taped Feb. 23 in Culver City, Calif., at Sony Picture Studios. Ellis is sworn to secrecy not to reveal the results until it airs, he said.

“When I first got out, it was hard not to tell anybody,” Ellis said. “Now, it’s kind of fun” to keep the secret.

Beside Ellis and the studio audience, his wife, Katrina, also knows the outcome. She accompanied him to Los Angeles for his appearance.

Their daughter, 6-year-old Briana, stayed behind in Maryland because a child has to be at least 8 years old to be in the studio audience, he said.

The trip to Los Angeles started a couple of years ago, when he applied online to become a contestant, Ellis said. In mid-January he received an e-mail telling him to report on Feb. 3 for an audition at a hotel in New York City, he said.

Ellis, who works in contractor sales at Home Depot, was one of about 50 people who auditioned in a conference room. Prospective contestants took a written test, played simulated games and got some coaching on being a game show contestant.

“You have to be able to talk,” Ellis said. “That’s the main thing they told you: Be sure you’re loud and clear.”

A few days later he got the call that he had been selected.

The day of taping began at 7:45 a.m. when the contestants arrived at the studio. There were about 20 contestants there for the six shows taped that day, he said.

That gave contestants time to get acquainted, he said. Because his show was set to air on a Tuesday, it was the second to be taped that day.

“I’m actually really excited to watch the whole week because I’ll know everyone on it,” Ellis said of the other contestants.

After 37 years, “Wheel of Fortune” is an American institution, and so are its hosts, Sajak and White, who came aboard in the early 1980s.

“She was very petite, but very naturally pretty,” Ellis said of White. “She came in with no makeup and sweats on” and met with contestants before taping, he said.

“Pat, the first time you meet him is on stage,” Ellis said. “He’s very quick-witted and makes everyone on stage feel comfortable.”

“He’s a total natural at what he does,” Ellis said.

While the rest of the country will watch on television, Ellis will be with family, friends and “Wheel” fans at the Leitersburg Cinemas, where the 7 p.m. telecast will be projected onto a big screen. The doors open at 6:30 p.m., he said.

The event is free, but a ticket is required and can be obtained online at, according to Rich Daughtridge, owner of Leitersburg Cinemas.

It will be shown in the large theater, and there are 450 seats available, Daughtridge said in an e-mail.

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